Editor's notebook

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Home > McGill News > 2005 > Fall 2005 > Editor's notebook

Editor's notebook

Diana Ayton: Editor, McGill News

Education is starting to look different these days. So much more learning is happening outside classrooms, where students gain real world, up-close experience. An example is our cover story on McGill's mining engineering program, where students labour underground, often performing the hard and sweaty grunt work. Although mining is increasingly a high-tech operation, conditions sometimes require old pick-and-shovel techniques.

Once they've finished the program, some of these engineering grads may never set foot in a mine again, but they will have learned what is at the heart of their industry and how people and equipment extract the metals and minerals essential to the manufacture of everything from appliances to airplanes.

Elsewhere, students from the McGill School of Environment are encouraged to "get a little dirt under their fingernails" by participating in field semesters, studying tropical agriculture in Panama or water conservation and regulation in Barbados. Undergraduates in anthropology can apply to the Canadian Field Studies in Africa program and join a "study safari," hunting for signs of our human ancestors in the very areas they first inhabited.

And there are scores of summer internships, opportunities for students to flesh out their study programs while performing valuable service in, say, the public defender's office in New York City or working for a craft co-op in Pakistan. Some internships are made possible by donors like businesswoman Tania Zouikin, BA'72, whose initiative you can read about in the publication bundled with this issue of the News. A Portrait of Private Giving provides a glimpse of some of the ways that donations - whether large or small - add to the learning experience for McGill's students.

Many alumni know the man who used to have the job of McGill's top fundraiser, former Vice-Principal of Development and Alumni Relations, Derek Drummond, BArch'62. A couple of years ago, he returned to the peace and quiet of the School of Architecture, with occasional forays into the limelight as the hilarious moderator of the Leacock Luncheon at both the Homecoming and road show versions (in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver). With the retirement of Bob Dubeau after 29 years as athletics director, and thanks to a "total inability to say no," Drummond is stepping into the position until Dubeau's permanent replacement is found. During Dubeau's tenure, McGill's sports facilities have been expanded and rebuilt, making them now among the best in the country. The official opening of the completed sports complex took place on September 12 and the latest additions include space for Pilates, golf, yoga, martial arts and spinning enthusiasts. Spiffier locker rooms round out the facelift.

Unfortunately, not all the news from athletics is positive. A complaint was recently made by a student about inappropriate behaviour during the football team's initiation activities. The University is taking the charge seriously and an investigation is underway. Once it is concluded, appropriate action will be taken.

A few pages on, you will note a new contributor to the News - Principal Heather Munroe-Blum. She met her deadline several weeks ago, so we were all still in the throes of welcoming students. Among the new faces on campus this fall are some undergraduates from Tulane University in New Orleans. When Katrina left the city devastated, McGill joined a number of universities around North America offering to accept stranded students. Nine students were accepted and fast-tracked so that some were in classrooms within a week of applying to McGill. The University is also waiving the international tuition fees for the group, who are considered visiting students for one semester. Tulane is expecting to be up and running in January, but McGill is prepared to have the students stay on should there be any delay.

One of the students, 18-year-old Frédéric Augonnet told the McGill Reporter, "The circumstances of my being here are horrible, but people's response has been almost overwhelming." McGill's Alumni Association has also sent clothing and a cash donation to colleagues at Louisana State University in Baton Rouge who have been housing and feeding evacuees since August. For some, life's lessons have been hard.

Signature of Diana Ayton

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